Gallery: The Origami-Inspired Folding Bamboo House


Ming Tang’s beautiful origami-inspired Folded Bamboo Houses are intended to be used as temporary shelters in the aftermath of an earthquake. Brilliant in their simplicity, the geometric shelters are constructed from renewable materials and can be folded into a variety of structurally sound shapes. Their elegant design was recently honored as a notable mention in this year’s Re:Construct competition sponsored by San Francisco’s Urban Re:Vision

Ming Tang came up with the idea for his Folding Houses after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck central China last May, killing 69,000 people. Upon learning that the Chinese government planned to create up to 1.5 million temporary homes, he decided to design a shelter that was easily produced, cheap and environmentally friendly. His geometric folding houses are beautiful, dynamic, and can adapt to respond to the needs of different situations.

The concept utilizes a system of bamboo poles that are pre-assembled into rigid geometric shapes. The geometry of these forms provides each structure’s integrity, allowing a range of lightweight modular structures to be quickly assembled in factories and transported to their destination. Once constructed, the shelters are then covered by using post and pre-consumer recycled paper.

+ Folded Bamboo House

+ Re:construct

+ Urban Re:Vision


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  1. Athena April 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Wonderful designs! I love it and hope one day i could live in the amazing place!
    We are a manufacturer of bamboo garments and accessories in Suzhou.If anyone is interested in working with us please feel free to contact with me:-)

  2. raoulartsmith February 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I only see CG pictures of the structures. Are there no photos of the actual structures? Have they been tested, or are they only conceptual?

  3. Architecture Student De... September 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

    […] it was inexpensive, lightweight, sustainable, naturally insulated and had structural properties. Origami was the basis for the structure because it gave the cardboard even more structure and could easily […]

  4. LML October 23, 2009 at 9:32 am

    in one configuration in the foreground, the structural members are piercing the paper cladding. Seems like there are some not-so-trivial details that have yet to be worked out–such as how to keep out the rain

  5. LML October 23, 2009 at 9:31 am

    in the foreground, one configuration shows the structural members piercing the paper cladding in the roof. Seems like there’s some not-so-trivial details yet to be worked out–such as how to keep out the rain.

  6. InTheDetails January 19, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Hey, that’s my former professor! :) It’s nice to see him recognized on here.

  7. The PHA : links for 200... November 2, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    […] Inhabitat » The Origami-Inspired Folding Bamboo House (tags: origami inspiration housing house garden environment earthquake diy shelter design china bamboo art) […]

  8. Erik van Lennep October 31, 2008 at 6:11 am

    Really lovely, I wonder how they would actually perform. Computer generated fantasy landscapes help sell the idea. Should be re-drawn showing the mud tracks, refuse heaps, stumps left from firewood collection etc which would actually constitute such a settlement very fast. Anyway, just being a realist :) I do like the looks of them, and the concept. I wonder how you would weather-proof the paper covers?

  9. Nils H October 25, 2008 at 1:07 am

    These look interesting but has one actually been built? Its a very different reality to actually build with bamboo than it is to create computer generated imagery on concepts…it is the building process that would prove whether the idea works or not…

  10. Rob J October 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I can only agree with everyone so far – these look great, and the fact that they will play a role in sheltering people during natural disasters is a tribute to the designers as well.

    Thanks for the images, and for the article!


  11. theokobox October 24, 2008 at 8:25 am

    These are fantastic, I wonder how heavy they are because using this instead of tents os a great idea. Tents are not only PVC, but they dowse them in fire retardents which makes them toxic. This design looks so much more natural in it’s surroundings then most man made strustures too! I love it.

  12. samsmall October 23, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Love the application of Structural Bamboo shown here. Ming Tang\’s Folding Houses are a great and practical expression of what can be done with bamboo.

    There\’s a slew of bamboo designs you can see at
    Its a Bamboo Design competition from 2007 that generated a broad range of designs, some 250 designs in 12 building categories submitted from 64 countries.

    The contest was sponsored by Bamboo Technologies who is the first to offer prefabricated building code certified hurricane and earthquake proof residential homes, resorts and commercial structures from their factory in Viet Nam, all built from Structural Bamboo. shows a variety of standardized and custom designs that are reasonably priced and fast to assemble anywhere in the world.

    Go Bamboo!!!

  13. Alexandra Kain October 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    These are beautiful! I think they’d be great not only for emergency shelter but also as an alternative to PVC tents at wedding receptions, family reunions, and picnic events.

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